As many people so many life stories: EDC has started the implementation of the integration program „Living in Latvia”
Yes, that is really true – as many people so many life stories - this was exactly the strongest feeling on January 22 and 23 when approximately 50 people representing different age groups and experiences from all over the world: Moscow, St. Petersburg and several cities of Siberia in Russia, Thailand, Burma, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Byelorussia and other places met in the Education Development centre to participate in the first seminar in the project “Living in Latvia – 4”. Whatever the reasons that have brought them to Latvia – the voice of ancestors covering the distance of hundreds of years, employment appointment, family reunion, the decision to start one’s business, the willingness to ensure their children qualitative education, interest to learn themselves. They have arrived in Latvia with good thoughts, interest and readiness to cooperate and feel at home in this country which they already praised for nice nature and open and responsive people.
At the same time the life in a new place is connected with numerous questions about practical trifles and big issues, the desire and even the necessity to master the language, to establish social networks, to find people with similar experience and to get acquainted closer withy the local people. This and much more will become possible in the framework of the program “Living in Latvia” implemented by EDC which will last till the end of June. The objectives of the first meeting was to get acquainted with each other, the EDC project implementation team and Latvia, for this is the theme of the first module of the integration program and using the calendars presented by the project plan the future activities: seminars, language acquisition classes, trips to different places of Latvia, museum and concert visits, etc. This time we all together visited Rīga History and Navigation museum at the same time doing sightseeing in Old, which as one of the participants said “is the symbol of Latvia for me”. The active and interested listeners really brought joy.
Instruction in the framework of the integration program takes place in Latvian and translation into Russian and English is provided because it is important that people understand what has been said and feel good. At the same time the participants are training their listening skills and we hope that at the end of the integration program more and more participants will be listening into the Latvian language and the translation will serve only as the means of safety and for the enrichment of the vocabulary- similar to the subtitles of the film in the language that we understand fairly well. Also the informative materials, work sheets and questionnaires are provided in two languages – the braver ones start with the Latvian language and if necessary turn to the other side of the page for help.
Integral part of such an integration program is also the participants’ monitoring in order to understand more precisely their needs and feelings. To look at Latvia through the participants’ eyes- this is the objective and benefit of such interaction for us, the EDC team. Is everything as it seems to us; have we not got used to the good taking it as granted and are we not making a mountain out of a molehill? Similar thoughts may appear also to those representatives of the local community in four places of Latvia when meeting the project participants in the interest clubs in which we will speak about starting the individual business, celebrations of truly Latvian festivals and the participation in the life of local community. The aim of the first trip is already known and the project participants attending the language interest group will learn such words as „ūdenskritums” (waterfall), „vecpilsēta” (old town) and other expressions describing the rich and beautiful history and today of Kuldīga.
Some of these people have seen snow for the first time in their life in Latvia; another is thrilled by the people’s love of work building their own houses, yards and gardens, yet for another the symbol of Latvia is amber. However, it is important as the participants write in the questionnaire that the local people would understand that people have arrived and settled here with good intentions, with their knowledge and skills, and are ready to share them. All that is needed is a bit more patience, tolerance and support remembering that some people have come here due to coincidence of conditions not their own choice. Integration is not a one-way street and the implementation of this project again confirms it. All can be winners. We simply have to meet and talk.